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As the country reflects on allegations of sexual assault against a young, drunk Brett Kavanaugh, I cannot help but think about my own college days at Dartmouth in the late 1990s. I did not sexually assault anyone, but I can see how it could happen and wish I knew then what I know now.
I own a cap that was passed down to me by a sorority sister. Neatly sharpied on the inside of the brim, it says, “When you love an institution, you should consistently question its value for the sake of its own validity.” I was probably not allowed to keep this hat, but it somehow made its way with me to Washington D.C., a city that I moved to less than six months ago. With the the controversy surrounding Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh happening right where I call home now, and for many other reasons, I have not been able to get much sleep — nor this quote out of my head.
For the linguist J. L. Austin, an utterance can be constative and/or performative. That is, it can simply make a descriptive statement or it can actually perform the articulated action. Austin would judge the performative speech act by its degree of “felicity”: an utterance should be considered “happy” if the action actually takes place and “infelicitous” if not. At Dartmouth, it is hard to make felicitous utterances –– i.e. to make something happen just by saying it. For example, many would say “let’s have a meal soon” to others, without ever having one. Similarly, when one says “I will study with my friends on FFB,” one will not necessarily study while sitting there. But on this campus, when one announces to the world that “I’m going to get wasted hard tonight,” one will almost certainly manage to look wasted hard that evening. This felicitous speech act, once uttered, guarantees students a rare kind of happiness.
The Dartmouth Coach slowed as it approached the curb of the Hopkins Center for the Arts, crushing the small remnants of snow beneath its tires. As I stepped off the bus, the sun speared its light through the clouds, and the slight breeze carried the faint fragrance of flowers. I took in a deep breath and I stood with hope, eager for the opportunity of a great spring term that lay ahead.
This article does not represent the entirety of Epsilon Kappa Theta; it is simply my opinion as an alumna of the organization.
“There is a difference between regretting a sexual encounter and walking away from an experience feeling violated.”
We are writing as individuals who are deeply engaged in sexual violence prevention and response work at Dartmouth.
In a recent column entitled “Yes Means Yes,” Jillian Freeman ’21 laid out an argument against the phrase “unenthusiastic consent is not consent.” Unfortunately, this argument is disconnected from the power dynamics and pressures regarding sex and consent. All too often, propositions for sexual contact happen under circumstances of coercion, where unenthusiastic consent is often an escape route from a more unsavory outcome. The reality is that men control the power dynamic of potential sexual encounters and can pressure their partners to consent, even implicitly. Clearly, no one would fault the victim of a robbery for consenting to have their wallet stolen when threatened at gunpoint; obviously, their consent in that situation should not be considered valid.
I am writing this commentary as a reaction to The Dartmouth’s editorial piece, “Verbum Ultimum: Open The Playground,” published on May 11, 2018.
On Apr. 6, Dartmouth students “Took Back the Night.” Social spaces were asked to close in solidarity with survivors of sexual violence. All of them said they did. (While walking home I witnessed a group of guys run loudly into a fraternity shouting, “We’re gonna be late for our pong tourney!” I will let you speculate which fraternity it was.) While many community members took hosting events such as movie screenings, discussions and a march seriously, most saw Apr. 6 as a forced “dry night.” What do we have to show for it a month later?
Things have gotten bad for Facebook in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, so much so that Mark Zuckerberg voluntarily subjected himself to almost ten hours of questioning from members of Congress. Zuckerberg traded in his iconic t-shirt and jeans for a polished suit and tie during the trip to the Capitol. During two Congressional hearings, there were many revelations for Facebook, the U.S. government and the American people. It felt momentous, that after a virtually regulation-free beginning to the tech industry’s dominance, the sector’s star boy was finally answering to a greater authority. Experienced politicians and trained lawyers, Congressmen and Congresswomen, could finally hold Zuckerberg accountable as the representative of an industry grown arrogant, overconfident and prone to overstepping bounds that no industry had dared cross before.
Dear white people,
On Apr 6, 2018, The Dartmouth staff columnist Matthew Magann '21 wrote a piece entitled “Safety Under the Law” about gun rights. The column’s central premise that the National Rifle Association’s argument of a slippery slope toward gun confiscation is a falsehood. He cited my Apr. 1 column in “Townhall,” entitled “Yes, They Are Coming For Your Guns,” as a prime example of this position, but my column does not argue that point.
Following yet another shocking statement by Laura Ingraham ’85, Dartmouth once again finds itself as the alma mater of a conservative firebrand in the middle of an ugly debate. In a tweet posted by Ingraham on March 28, the Fox News host and former Dartmouth Review editor mocked and admonished Parkland survivor David Hogg for discussing his rejection from multiple colleges, claiming that he “whines about it.” Hogg has been one of the most prominent faces of the #NeverAgain movement started by the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students who survived the February shooting.
“I don’t normally shop,” I said apologetically. As item upon item stacked by the till, I’m not sure the cashier believed me.
I was assaulted. He may claim not to remember it, but it happened. My friend was there; she saw what he did to me and stopped him before he could do any more. These situations are gray, and I get that, I really do. He was drunk, I was drunk — but my friend wasn’t drunk. She remembers that night a lot better than him or me, but her memory didn’t matter in the end.
Americans can no longer deny the opioid epidemic infecting our nation. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of fatal overdoses involving opioids quadrupled from 2000 to 2016, causing the deaths of 115 Americans per day, on average. As we enter 2018, this number continues to increase, with health news website STAT News’ expert panel forecasting that opioid overdoses could potentially kill 250 Americans a day in the near future. STAT News correspondent Max Blau put the data into perspective: If this increase in fatal opioid overdoses occurs, then “opioids could kill nearly as many Americans in a decade as HIV [and] AIDS [have] killed since that epidemic began in the early 1980s.”
Dartmouth has a problem: It self-segregates. In addition to the various diversity offices and committees that Dartmouth will forever adore, the College has institutionalized affinity houses, such as the Shabazz Center, the Latin American, Latino and Caribbean Studies House and the Native American House. It also has race-specific Office of Pluralism and Leadership advisors and academic programs that divide race into neat compartments. For example, by grouping together African and African American Studies, the College combines ethnic studies and area studies, two very separate fields with very different histories and theories. Despite these fundamental differences, Dartmouth merges them solely based on racial identity.
I am writing this contribution with some trepidation, as wading into a campus debate about an issue like First-Year Trips strikes me as a questionable idea for a faculty member. Nonetheless, one of my advisees asked me last week if I was aware of the controversy surrounding the recent selection of a Trips directorate. Since that time I have read the original Trips editorial as well as several responses. I do not have a dog in this fight, but as someone who teaches statistics at Dartmouth, I hope to see students on campus invoke statistical principles in their discussions and in public debates. Hence this letter.
We have been following the controversy on the Campus Events listserv over the last few days regarding Ryan Spector ’19’s Feb. 2 guest column in The Dartmouth. To be clear, we support diversity and inclusivity. That said, we are troubled by the nature of the debate itself.